A new report from the World Bank, Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty, shows that, unchecked, the effects of climate change could push 100 million or more people into poverty in the next fifteen years. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the poorest regions of the world, are likely to be hit hardest. The report joins the two defining global issues of our time: poverty and climate change.
The way out requires that poverty reduction and development take the changing climate into account. The two issues can be more easily achieved if considered together. Coping with climate shocks will require early warning systems and flood protection as well as crops that are resistant to climate pressures and must have an overall attention to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in ways that protect the poor.
“This report sends a clear message that ending poverty will not be possible unless we take strong action to reduce the threat of climate change on poor people and dramatically reduce harmful emissions,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Climate change hits the poorest the hardest, and our challenge now is to protect tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty because of a changing climate.”
Agriculture will be the sector most impacted by climate issues. The effects will cause rising prices that would lead to increased occurrence of malnutrition and the related health concerns. Water shortages would affect health and hygiene. Higher overall temperatures could contribute to an increase in the number of people at risk for malaria.
“The future is not set in stone,” said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist at the World Bank who led the team that prepared the report. “We have a window of opportunity to achieve our poverty objectives in the face of climate change, provided we make wise policy choices now.”
The report outlines good development as rapid, inclusive, but primarily climate-informed. As drought impacts create current issues, it previews the critical impact that climate can have on human well-being. The report is based on findings from household surveys in 92 countries and points to taking urgent action on both poverty and climate issues as ending poverty will become more difficult as climate change impacts grow. Integrating the strategies for both problems may be not only the best way to achieve success in both, but the only way.
Jill Rundle, Editor, Global Solution Networks